As seen in...
In downtown Vancouver, French natives Jacques Becker and his wife Marie-Jeanne Becker Godard look out of their expansive floor-to-ceiling windows on the 43rd floor of The Private Residences at Georgia Hotel with smiles. The sweeping city, ocean and mountain views seem to extend forever.
Initially family and friends were surprised they would sell their stunning 4,500-square-foot West Vancouver waterfront townhome for a 2,000-square-foot, two-bedroom-and-den condominium (albeit an uber-luxurious one) in a hotel.
“We are still very much active and we don’t have to conduct daily business anymore so we decided living in the downtown core, in the middle of everything, would suit our lifestyle,” says Jacques Becker, Honorary Consul, Consulate of Monaco in Vancouver, adding they still maintain a home in France.
Marie-Jeanne Becker Godard agrees and adds, “As a little girl I dreamt of living at the Hotel Ritz in Paris like Coco Chanel did.”
It’s an appealing prospect to anyone who has the money to afford this lavish lifestyle. The Beckers admit the perks such as a 24-hour concierge, in-home room service (including calling Hawksworth’s Restaurant when entertaining an intimate group of friends for a fully catered dinner brought up to their condo), and the use of the facilities, such as a pool or spa, without the hassle of maintaining them, really attracted them as well.
In 1999, the power couple moved to Vancouver after Marie-Jeanne Becker Godard sold her perfume chain of 75 stores to Sephora for millions of dollars. Today she is co-owner and CEO of Vancouver-based Marie Khouri Design.
Enlisting the help of friend and Parisienne interior designer Corinne Sananes, the couple was looking to embrace the bright, open-concept design with a more modern, contemporary interior than their previous home, which they describe as traditional.
“We sold all of our furniture except our paintings and sent photos of our new home to Corinne to work from,” says the mother of four grown children. “All of the furniture came from Europe.”
First off, this dynamic world-travelling couple wanted their art collection to take centre stage.
As serious art enthusiasts, the white walls were non-negotiable in order to highlight the art in the best possible way. Most notably, they wanted to showcase two vibrant portrayals of street markets in France by French artist Claude Fauchere.
“We bought them when living in Paris 20 years ago and the paintings moved with us to Vancouver, almost 18 years ago,” says Becker, adding they met the artist a few times. “The Brazilian painting is from Alain Attar, a Canadian acquaintance of ours who used to live in South Surrey/White Rock.”
They also decided the furnishings should be simple. Sananes chose a neutral-hued sofa and a glass table in the dining room so none of the furniture would compete with the bold, graphic art. The only other pops of colour come from the retro seventies red and yellow MDF Italia chairs.
“It had been decided to place the chairs in front of the opening window – in front of the terrace – as a specific and private corner, and not in another area which could ‘disturb’ the light ambiance area,” adds the veteran designer.
Sananes describes the décor as French timeless elegance with minimalist ambiance.
“My job was to maintain that clean, modern feel, but add warmth and texture,” adds Sananes. She chose a calming palette to create a suitably soothing space, introducing colour in small, subtle bursts of tone and pattern.
Her goal for the overall appearance of their condo was to create a casual, yet stylish look that also reflects the stunning West coast topography.
“Of course, the idea was to keep the view very open with nothing in front of the windows to interrupt the vistas,” she adds.
In this open layout, the custom off-white sofa and four chairs (the two felt ones swivel to soak in the views) separate the living room from the dining area; a luxurious wool and natural silk rug supplies a punch of personality.
The bold trio of built-in columns (which appear to float) next to the television and the stacking tables – picked by the Becker’s – speak to an appreciation for eye-grabbing, whimsical pieces.
In keeping with the couple’s wish to have the panorama the focal point, the master bedroom was also kept simple: white walls and white bedding with the only colour coming from the art work and the soft grey bedframe. The crowning touch? A roomy marble ensuite that evokes a boutique hotel; the perfect place to relax at the day’s end.
“We had this Hermes orange beach towel that we never used, so I decided it would make a great rug in the master bathroom,” says Becker Godard.
When asked if they miss their West Vancouver waterfront home, both shakes their heads.
“Not at all; I am living my dream,” she says.
“On the 43rd floor, with north, east and mainly southwest exposure, we can enjoy a fantastic 270-degree view over the city, the bay, the port, Mount Seymour and Mount Baker,” Becker adds.